Monthly Archives: March 2011

Soul Love Text

I zoomed into Jack’s text on the Soul Love art and adjusted the contrast so you can clearly read his pencils. I could translate the text for you, but I encourage you to go ahead and check it out for yourself.

“The patient would die, but not before he saved her!” — classic.

It would have been interesting to see how this series had evolved if Jack had worked on if for a decade as he did on books like Fantastic Four and Thor. I’m not sure if this is material Jack was best suited for (understatement), but you gotta admire his ability to forge ahead with enthusiasm.

Soul Love

Fascinating unused Soul Love piece. Looks like Jack used wash — watered down India ink — plus some white-out for the faces.

 

This may have been one of the only times Jack experimented with wash, and really not that successfully here in my opinion. It’s a great piece, but Jack probably could have used more practice working with wash, and he may have been helped by some solid photo reference to clearly choose his light sources if he wanted to do truly 3-dimensional-looking artwork that could stand alongside the spectacular work being done by some of the artists working on the Warren  comics publications.  HQ scan so zoom in to look at the details.

comicsreporter.com Kirby Gallery Part 2

Here from comicsreporter.com is another Kirby Gallery posted by Tom Spurgeon, this one on Kirby’s 93rd birthday. Hopefully Tom won’t mind me posting the images here for you:

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Kirby Gallery from comicsreporter.com

Thanks to Ted H. for passing along this link to Tom Spurgeon’s website the comicsreporter where Tom posted a random gallery of Kirby images for Jack’s birthday in 2009. I cut and pasted the images here because I thought some of you might enjoy the trip through Jack’s career. Tom’s website is probably the best all-around comics-related website on the interweb so please check it out.

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FF 48 Splash? Or a Forgery?

I remember several years ago this page was up for sale billed as the original of page 1, Fantastic Four # 48 (1966).

This has to be a forgery, correct? I don’t believe this book or any of the “Galactus Trilogy” books have officially surfaced yet. There are no liner notes. No white-out. It does look like the title and captions were glued to the board, but no sign of age, or of the paste bleed-through that you see on virtually all originals from this period. No mark-ups by Stan, nothing.

In all fairness maybe this is simply a piece of fan art, or a commission piece. Either way, it’s dangerously authentic-looking and I’d hate to be the one who spent tens of thousands of dollars on it only to find out it’s a fake, so if it’s homage it would be polite of the “artist” to clearly label this as a “copy.”

Here’s the published image.

 Just comparing Johnny Storm’s left hand in the color published image to that of the B/W image reveals that the first piece is clearly a forgery (or a fan fake job). Look at the line-thickness on the index figure on the right in the published image compared to the first scan.

 It must be frustrating to a forger (or whoever did this “art”for whatever reason) to put so much time and effort into a piece only to make a few tiny mistakes like that one that reveal the work to be a fake. I know the scans are fuzzy, but if you look closely at just those two scans you can see several other discrepancies.

I always tell new comic book art collectors, be very, very careful what you buy. I suspect 99.9% of comic art for sale may be legit, but you don’t want to be the one who uses the kids’ college fund to invest in a piece like this.

Fantastic Four # 63 Splash

Awful scan but an interesting piece because I remember when I saw this page first go up for sale (around 2005-or-so) some wondered whether it was a forgery. The scan is too small to examine closely, but it looks like a legitimate page to me.

It’s interesting because threats that a page is a forgery probably cause the price to go down somewhat, enabling a prospective buyer to get a better deal,  so I always wondered if there was some kind of manipulation going on when those sort of accusations surfaced. But of course there are forgeries out there, so it’s important to be on your toes if you are an art buyer; and since about 8000/10,000 were stolen from the Marvel warehouse before the remaining 2000 were returned to Jack, the provenance on many 60s Kirby’s originals is always going to be questionable anyway — unless you know for sure the seller was Jack and Roz. Tomorrow I’ll post a page that looks like it was certainly a forgery.

The page above is from one of my favorite Kirby FF books. If it’s legit –and it looks to be so to me — wow. I can’t even imagine owning a large art page from Fantastic Four# 63 (1967). It’s a Kirby/Sinnott masterpiece. Here is the published page by Kirby/Sinnott. This whole book is great.

Marvel vs. Kirby

Thanks to Mark L. for passing along this link to these documents from the Kirby vs. Marvel court case. I wish I had time to read these and comment, but since I don’t I’ll just give you all the links and you can check them out if you have a chance. If anyone out there has an opinion on the subject, or sees any experts giving some insightful commentary on the Kirby case please let me know and Ill post links to those articles here.

http://dockets.justia.com/docket/new-york/nysdce/1:2010cv00141/356975/

Also Mark compiled all the documents into a single package which you can download here:

http://digitalvault.cox.net/invite/login?c=6d6c7565626b6572&i=4d33-12e4f977a99-coxprod _gemini_canniff31&t=39b2c549993603c7&r=mg&lang=en

I guess the battle is just beginning…

jack-kirby-captain-america-vs-red-skull

The Fantastic Four # 1 Synopsis

Here are scans of the famous FF # 1 synopsis (pages 1 – 4). I agree with Mark Evanier’s statement in his testimony (that I provided an excerpt from yesterday) that this document looks like it was written after a meeting between Kirby/Lee. If anyone disagrees, feel free to send in your opinion and I’ll post it here.

Fantastic Four Synopsis Page One

Page 1: Notice the story is going to use chapter breaks, very similar to Jack’s Challengers of the Unknown series. Also notice the contrast between the list of the 4 characters which is polished and decisive, then in the next section immediately Lee is indecisive. Lee writes: “Story might open up with a meeting of the Fantastic Four.” How could Lee go from confidently naming each character and describing each character in detail to not even being able to tell Jack where to begin the story? This suggests to me this document starts off as a synopsis of a Kirby/Lee meeting, then segues into Lee brainstorming.

Notice the story here starts off the same as the first appearance of Jack’s Challengers of the Unknown which appeared in DC Showcase# 6 (Feb 1957). A flight where 4 adventurers representing the 4 elements encounter problems in flight, come crashing back down to earth, and are transformed into a team of heroes intent on helping mankind based on the experience. I’ll show a comparison of the Kirby art from the first 3 pages of DC Showcase # 6 (Feb 1957) and the mirror-image Fantastic Four # 1 origin (Nov 1961) at the end of this post.

Fantastic Four Synopsis Page Two

Page 2: Notice how conversational and indecisive Lee is: “Maybe we better make this a flight to the stars instead of just to Mars.”

Again, I ask you, How could Stan go from confidently naming each character and describing each character in detail on page 1, to not even being able to tell Jack whether to have the characters go to the stars or to Mars? This suggests to me two main things: (1) this document is one phase in a collaboration where both men were exchanging ideas throughout the process. (2) This also suggests Lee wants Jack’s input, values it. Lee cares what Jack thinks! Lee doesn’t want to give Kirby a laundry list of directions, he wants to work with his partner to come up with the best story. Plus Stan sincerely does not seem to be sure where to go with the story. That’s why I think the character names and “powers” on page 1 were agreed-upon by Kirby/Lee, then what we see after that list — phase 2 — is Lee brainstorming, throwing ideas Jack’s way; Jack will then take those ideas, adapt them, change them, and the process will continue.

What Stan seems to realize here is that a long trip to Mars wastes time. If the FF simply go into space, get hit by the cosmic rays, then come back down to earth, then the story can start sooner. This is how stories evolve. This is how collaborations take place. Stan’s mythology he has been promoting from the 1970s to 2011 that he invented FF alone is cute, and fun from a B.T. Barnum perspective, but it doesn’t pass the common sense test; it doesn’t make logistical sense considering Jack had input into every story he ever worked on; and looking at this document, it does not make historical sense.

As the document continues, notice Sue has a mask at one point — an idea that would be discarded. Later, Lee writes to his collaborator Jack Kirby: “better talk to me about it Jack, better change this gimmick somewhat.” What we are witnessing here is one step in a communication process that had already been taking place over time. And this is when they were meeting regularly. From 1964 – 1970 Jack was pretty much on his own.

Continuing on page 2: notice Lee only wants the Torch’s flame to last 5 minutes — that later gets discarded. Also excitement causes him to flame on. I guess he better avoid women! That idea — also discarded almost immediately. Notice Lee playing the role of editor: clearly telling Jack the comic code rules on what a flame character can do. Think about it — why does Lee need to tell Jack this if Lee is writing the story? Lee can just write a story where the torch never burns anything. Again, this clearly suggests Jack is going to be coming up with significant parts of the story if Lee needs to convey this type of information to him.

Fantastic Four Synopsis Page Three

Page 3: Lee mentions the Torch can’t throw fireballs; that was discarded. In the next paragraph Lee wants it to be painful for Mr. Fantastic to stretch; that is discarded almost immediately. Lee then describes the “shapeless Thing” (as an artist, imagine your editor telling you to draw a character that has no shape), then Lee writes: “here’s a gimmick I think we might play up to advantage.” Notice Lee says “we” here as if — you guessed it — Jack and Lee are collaborating.

Lee wants the Thing to be a creep with a crush on Sue Storm. This is another idea discarded immediately. Stan goes on to waste about a page describing this Reed/Ben/Sue triangle. Where is the story? Is this an example of the kind of plot Jack had to try and come up with a story out of? Lee’s soap opera with Grimm lusting after Sue is meaningless and none of this makes it into the final story. Sure, Ben Grimm is irascible at first, but ultimately Kirby/Lee realize a gentle giant with a heart of gold underneath the gruff exterior  is far, far superior than what Lee proposes here.

Fantastic Four Synopsis Page Four

Finally Lee gets back to the “story.” The FF want to help mankind. But they fight each other along the way. Sort of like I bet how Kirby/Lee would squabble over story ideas. Some story…

Lee mentions that’s 11 pages of “story.” I challenge all you artists out there to do 11 pages of art based on that synopsis. You got a lot of work to do. You have to decide on a lot of things. How are you going to logically string all these ideas together? How are you going to make Lee’s Grimm/Reed/Sue triangle work and not seem like lame melodrama that slows the story? And what happens next? Can you expect this same sort of all-over-the-place, wandering, rambling plot from Lee for the next part of the story?

Anyway, that’s Lee’s “synopsis” for the first appearance of the FF, a document that Lee feels proves he created FF alone. Four elemental travelers venture into space, encounter problems in flight, then crashland on earth transformed. Sound familiar? Here are the first 3 pages of DC Showcase # 6 (Feb 1957), then 4 years later the origin of the FF in Fantastic Four # 1 (Nov 1961). Not  exactly the same but pretty similar.

DC Showcase # 6 (Feb 1957) Pages 1, 2, and 3

Fantastic Four (Nov 1961) Pages 10, 11, and 13

Also notice the similarities between the four FF characters to the four COTU characters. Yes, I know Sue Storm is a woman and Ace Morgan is male. I also understand those who say comparing  invisibility to air, and stretching to liquidity is a — stretch — for lack of a better word, but you can’t deny the characters do bear some surface resemblance to one another as well as being similar in how they contrast with one another. I’m not saying Lee is a liar, I’m just saying it looks like Jack worked on FF with Lee before the synopsis above was written, and I think Jack probably worked on the FF team throughout the entire writing phase of Fantastic Four # 1 (1961). Jack may have even pitched the idea of FF to Lee. Same with Thor, Hulk, X-Men, Nick Fury, Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc. All I’m asking is: please consider Jack’s involvement in the creation of the 1960s Marvel characters as a possibility.

Fantastic Four/Challengers of the Unknown: the 4 Elements

1. Johnny Storm, Human Torch/Red Ryan, Circus Acrobat 

Fire

 

2. Sue Storm, Invisible Girl/Ace Morgan, Jet Pilot

AIR

 

3. Professor Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic/Professor Haley, Skin Diver

WATER

 

4. Ben Grimm, Thing/Rocky Davis, Wrestling champ

EARTH

Marvel vs Jack Kirby Transcripts

21st Century Danny Boy Dan Best is continuing to post transcripts from the Marvel vs Jack Kirby’s estate court case. I don’t agree with Best’s personal commentary on the Kirby/Lee subject in many cases which I think tends to be very biased towards Stan Lee, but I do appreciate Best taking the time to publish the transcripts so that readers can read the material for themselves — and I encourage you to ignore the pundits and reach your own conclusions on the topic. Evntually I’ll pick this material apart myself when I have the time to do so thoroughly. Again, thanks to Best for taking the time to make this available to all of us.

Part I, Stan Lee’s testimony

http://ohdannyboy.blogspot.com/2011/03/marvel-worldwide-inc-et-al-v-kirby-et.html

Part II, John Romita

http://ohdannyboy.blogspot.com/2011/03/marvel-worldwide-inc-et-al-v-kirby-et_06.html

Part III, Larry Lieber

http://ohdannyboy.blogspot.com/2011/03/marvel-worldwide-inc-et-al-v-kirby-et_07.html

Part IV, Roy Thomas

http://ohdannyboy.blogspot.com/2011/03/marvel-worldwide-inc-et-al-v-kirby-et_08.html

Part V, Mark Evanier

http://ohdannyboy.blogspot.com/2011/03/marvel-worldwide-inc-et-al-v-kirby-et_09.html

Here’s some excerpts from Mark Evanier’s interview.

Excerpt One:

Q: Go back. Do you agree with Mr. Lee’s statements that the Fantastic Four, at least in part, came about as a result of discussions that Mr. Lee had with Mr. Goodman in connection with the idea of coming up with a group of superheroes?

MARK EVANIER: My understanding is that Mr. Goodman said to Mr. Lee, “I see DC Comics has some very decent sales on what is called the Justice League of America. We should try a comic like that.”

Mr. Lee, in many interviews, said as I related, that Mr. Goodman had played golf with Jack Leibowitz, who was the head of DC Comics at the time, and that Leibowitz had bragged about the sales of Justice League, and that that prompted Mr. Goodman to come back from the golf game and say, “We should – we should create a comic like that.”

Mr. Lee has told this story on many occasions. Mr. Leibowitz, when he was interviewed, said he never played golf with Goodman in his entire life. So based on that, I tend to disbelieve at least that part of Mr. Lee’s story.

Q: So you think Lee is just lying about it?

MARK EVANIER: No, I think he just is being casual about the record.

Q: Have you seen the document that is — I guess was it a plot outline — a document that I guess it has come to have the term “synopsis” with regard to the first issue of the Fantastic Four?

MARK EVANIER: Yes, I have.

Q: And are you — when did you first see that

(break in transcript)

QUINN:: Mr. Evanier, just to close this particular loop, so it was your understanding, with regard to the Fantastic Four, that Mr. Kirby and Mr. Lee sat down beforehand and discussed the plot and the storyline, before it was published, before — let me rephrase that.

MARK EVANIER: All right.

Q: Was it your understanding that Kirby and Lee sat down to discuss the plot and the storyline before Mr. Kirby actually began to draw the characters?

MARK EVANIER: Yes, that is correct.

Q: Okay.

MARK EVANIER: I actually didn’t —

Q: I’m sorry —

MARK EVANIER: I didn’t finish my answer before the break there.

Q: Go ahead.

MARK EVANIER: You were asking me why I thought that the synopsis had followed a meeting with Jack’s giving his input.

Another reason is that the storyline of Fantastic Four is very similar in a number of ways to a comic Jack had done previously called the Challengers of the Unknown, very similar structure to the characters.

It feels an awful lot more like Jack’s earlier work than anything that Stan had done to that date. So I find it very difficult to believe that Jack did not have input into the creation of the characters prior to the — that synopsis, whenever it was composed.

And, also, I have the fact that I talked to Stan many times, and he told me — and he said it in print in a few places — that he and Jack had sat down one day and figured out what the Fantastic Four would be.

Q: And they discussed the plot before they actually — the drawings were done?

MARK EVANIER: They discussed the plot before the alleged synopsis was done also.

Q: And was it your understanding, with regard to these other characters — and we can go through all of them, or just we can get a general understanding – that this was typically what was done, that Lee and Kirby would sit down together, discuss the plot, discuss the storyline, and then Kirby would go and draw whatever he was going to draw?

MARK EVANIER: Correct.

Excerpt Two:

MARK EVANIER: I believe that the characters — let me put it this way. I believe that the properties Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Thor, several others here, the overall properties were co-created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Q: And what opinions or conclusions did you reach as to how that co-creation process worked?

MARK EVANIER: My understanding is that the two of them would sit down. They’d bring in rough ideas they might have had apart, throw them back and forth like any collaboration. Jack would offer ideas for characters. Stan would offer ideas for characters. Some ideas would get discarded. Some ideas would get expanded upon. And then they would emerge with some idea of what Jack was going to go home and draw.

Jack would draw the story. If it was 20 pages, he would draw 20 pages of material. He would bring it back. Assuming that Stan didn’t — assuming that Stan was happy with what Jack brought in, Stan would then write the copy, the dialogue, the captions on the pages. And then the work would proceed from that through lettering, and inking, and coloring, and publishing.

Q: Now, do you have any evidence or did you reach any conclusion or have an opinion as to whether Kirby had created or co-created any of these characters prior to when he returned to Marvel in 1958? And we’re focusing on these particular characters.

MARK EVANIER: On which particular characters were you focusing on?

Q: The ones you mentioned.

MARK EVANIER: The ones I mentioned? I believe Jack had previously done, in some cases, antecedents that were a starting point. He came in with ideas that were then later shaped with input from Stan.

(break in transcript))

MARK EVANIER: Jack’s original pages of Spider-Man were not used. Then Steve Ditko did it. However, Jack maintained that he created Spider-Man.

Q: And so this would be a circumstance, for example, where — maybe I’ve got this wrong. But put aside what he maintained. What did you conclude as to the creation of Spider-Man? Did you find Mr. Kirby’s version more credible than Mr. Lee’s, which is in clear conflict?

MARK EVANIER: I don’t find them completely in conflict. I find certain areas that overlap. And in this particular — this is — you’re kind of asking me for what could be a very long answer here, if you want to go through the whole thing.

Q: I don’t know. That’s a good question.

MARK EVANIER: Because I’ve spent hours discussing this with people. My version that I reported on, written about, of the creation of Spider-Man allows for certain he said/he said variations. There are, however, certain parallels in the stories and the accounts that I find indisputable.

Q: So you’re taking an amalgam of different facts and versions and choosing to try to make them consistent in such a way that you reach a conclusion?

MARK EVANIER: Well, when I report on this, I try to separate what is conjecture from what is, I believe, indisputable. And I leave it — well, when I have written about this, I generally leave it to the reader to make certain decisions about the process.

I think that there are things you can say about it that are obvious. I think there are things you can say that are simply common sense, because I don’t think that either Stan’s or Jack’s accounts exactly match the physical evidence of the printed comic that resulted.

But I think it is possible to come to a scenario of how Spider-Man came to be that allows for the fact that at various stages there’s the Stan Lee version, and the Jack Kirby version, and they could in some cases both be true based on interpretation of certain words, certain verbs.

It’s something when I have written about it I’m very careful to try and not take — not to say either Stan’s version was completely correct or Jack’s version was completely correct, because I don’t think either one of those tells the entire story. But they are not – it is wrong to say that they are in complete conflict.

The Man in the Crazy Maze

Page 1 from Strange Tales # 100 (1962): “The Man in the Crazy Maze.”

Interesting that Jack signed this page at the bottom twice. Maybe when he had the approximately 2000/10,000 pages of Marvel artwork returned to him, he might have done a marathon session where he signed all of the artwork, and this one got mixed up in the shuffle somehow and he ended up signing it twice; or I suppose a fan may have wanted to get the second signature on the piece from him personally at a convention. Nice inking here by Dick Ayers.